Friday, May 1, 2009

Water Main Break

Water main break. Jersey Avenue. Water main break, it’s a common enough incident. Somebody knows what do to fix it. The preparations for this maintenance are so thought out and systematic that there is no need to worry, or even notice. Luckily, I live in a part of the world with a stable and dependable water supply and a stable and dependable system of supplying that water. Luckily, I live in a country and a city with workers like these. I have no doubt when I turn on the shower each morning water will spray out. How is that lack of doubt ensured? How are our taxes and water bill payments spent? Hard work. The street has to be cut open in the right spot and large pipes have to be repaired or replaced. We pass a scene like this at least once a week, maybe more. Everything we do—and everyone who depends on what we do—depends on having simple and seamless access to water. If this wasn’t the case, our days would revolve around obtaining water. Without water, we couldn’t survive and with water, we can make our society function and our lives meaningful. I find it easy to be awestruck at the complexity of the competence these workers possess—muscle to handle the equipment, intelligence to know exactly how and what to fix, and alertness so they aren’t injured by the equipment or the task. Do we ever think of the competence of these workers in their occupation when we turn on the shower? Walt Whitman explains the awe, in his Song of Occupations: “in them all themes, hints, possibilities.”

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